That’s a rather Dr. Seuss sounding title I suppose but it pretty much sums up my home brewing experience this weekend. In the last post, I mentioned that I’d hopefully get around to starting my next (and second ever) home brew if the necessities of life allowed. After learning the vet clinic I’d planned to go to actually closed early for the upcoming holiday and my work appointment had to be rescheduled, it turned out I actually had the time – hooray! This still somehow resulted in starting late at night but who wants to run a hot gas stove during the sweltering day anyway?
Like the first go, I got a pot of filtered water boiling and added in some malt extract…
Then tossed in some hops…
I also mentioned before that one of the major differences between last time and now was the yeast. In the first go round, I used dry yeast that could just be prepped while the wort cooled down. Liquid yeast, which was to be the star of this show, has to be refrigerated before use. This is where common sense eluded me and apparently my memory as well because I swear I read the glass tube’s instructions like any other diligent home brewer and remembered thinking I could just take that puppy out during the cooling phase and be good to go. I thought this the entire time I cleaned and sanitized equipment and all through brewing the malt and hops. Then I took my yeast out of the fridge while the wort started cooling…and realized the directions actually say to take it out 3-6 hours before use!
This quickly presented a rather major problem as obediently following these instructions meant my star of the show would not be ready for the stage until 3am at the earliest. Upon realizing my blunder, I did what any slightly panic-stricken home brewer would do and searched through online forums to see if anyone else had been just as silly and what they’d done about it. The general peanut gallery advice I gained warned of the yeast not working and potential “off” flavors if the 3-6 hours instructions weren’t followed. One post suggested putting the yeast in some warm water to help wake it up a bit faster and so I gave my little glass vial a bath.
Along with this boo boo came the hunt for a thermometer – again something I thought I was good to go with up until I desperately needed it. When I went to check the temperature of my cooling wort, I noticed something very odd about my instrument of choice…it started at 100 degrees Fahrenheit/40 degrees Celsius. I had sanitized and attempted to check my home brew’s temperature with our candy thermometer! Sigh…maybe late night brewing was not such a grand plan.
I searched for the thermometer I used last time but firmly believe by this point that it has grown legs and run off somewhere. Maybe it had dreams of becoming an actress in New York or something. Godspeed little thermometer and good luck.
This obviously presented another conundrum as yeast tends to be very picky about wort’s temperature and, like Goldilocks, needs that “just right” range of things to be happy and content with the world. If the wort is too cold, the yeast will say “hump, I’m going back to bed, it’s too cold to work!” and nothing will happen. If the wort is too hot, the yeast will die (and no one wants zombie yeast roaming around). I did consider running out to Walgreens or some other place that might be open after midnight and grabbing a digital thermometer off the self but also feared that my wort would become too cool in the time it took for me to go out and get one. I won’t go into all the thermometer fun that occurred but suffice to say, I remained thermometerless. :O
My wonderful husband (who is quite often the one between us possessing more common sense and calm in such situations) pointed out that we had the condo’s thermostat set to about the temperature suggested on the yeast’s vial. So using the ultra scientific and accurate method of touching the sides of my fermenter to feel if it felt room temperature (and hence, in that 70-75 degree range), I pitched my almost-but-not-quite-ready-according-to-the-label yeast into what I hoped was truly not a death bed for it. As I put the airlock in and headed off to bed, I didn’t know what the fate of those little yeasties truly was.
But then I woke up this morning to this…
While not reason to throw a party just yet, bubbling in the airlock is what we want to see because it means the yeast is doing its job and belching up CO2 as result. This is also is a very good sign that I did not murder the innocent vial of yeast.
It remains to be seen, however, if this batch will be a success or prove me to be more of a mad scientist this round.